One of our more frequent complaints here at Lifehacker is that Web-based applications for money management like Mint and Wesabe have poor (or non-existent) integration with Australian banks and other financial institutions. In recent weeks, several readers have emailed us to sing the praises of the ANZ Money Manager site, which offers similar features — automatically importing financial data from your online banking accounts, tracking spending, and helping plan budgets — and works with a wide range of Australian financial institutions.
Despite the fact that ANZ has built the app (and offers a login for it on its own site right next to its regular Internet banking), it's not restricted to ANZ customers — anyone can use it free of charge. Security for the site is handled by Verisign, so there's little reason to worry about your account data provided you follow sensible general security practices like keeping your system patched. I tested it out in Firefox and IE, and it ran fine in both.
For Australian users, by far the most appealing immediate feature is the ability to log into a wide range of online accounts without needing special import routines. The easiest way is to search via the name of your bank (or other financial institution), which will produce a range of relevant options. Choose the right one, enter your login details, and information will be imported automatically.
I bank with two non-ANZ institutions, and both imported accurately without incident. Note that the site won't necessarily track all related accounts unless you tell it to explicitly — even though I can view my main business, savings and credit card accounts through a single login with one bank, I had to add the credit card separately to get it to show up. Once accounts are added, they're updated in the system once every 24 hours.
Money Manager automatically categorises your expenses as it imports them. You can rename the existing categories, create your own new ones, re-categorise any that the system missed, and build rules to automatically process regular expenses into the appropriate categories. I found the system did a fair job, though it missed a few obvious ones (like Foxtel and Qantas).
I'm in the process of sorting through my budget data and setting up some goals, which I'll cover in a future post. If you've already settled into Money Manager, share your experiences in the comments.
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